How to Guide
In the design phase it is important to bear in mind your requirements very accurately so that when your pond project is completed you end up with the pond that you desire. The importance of this phase of the project cannot be over emphasized.
To begin you need to decide on the type of pond, its location, size, shape and any additional features you may require such as a water fountain or cascading water fall.
The type of pond can be sunken,elevated or combination of the two depending on your requirements.
If you have children you may need to consider an elevated above ground level pond to reduce the risk of them falling into the pond. Consider other aspects such as fences around the pool, depth of pond (keep it shallow) or even consider having a pond metal grill or netting. Take the same precautions and design considerations as you would if you had an outdoor swimming pool.
An elevated pond also will be a lot easier to see from different positions around the garden.
Location, location and location seem to be the words we have heard before in real estate jargon the same can be said for pond location. Locate the pond away from trees, walls and fences with access all around the pond, make sure the pond is visible. I decided my location of pond so that I could see it when i was in my conservatory sitting down. Use a hose pipe and place it at the location you want and view it from all the possible angles of your home or garden. Also locate the pond in a sheltered area away from falling leaves and prevailing wind. If you have a water fountain in the pond, a windy day will ruin the water feature and reduce the water level of the pond as well so be careful.
The size and shape can be to individual requirements but remember to keep both of these factors in perspective with respect to the surroundings. Pond shapes can be square, circular, hexagonal (6 sided), Octagonal (8 sided) or the classic kidney shaped. My pond was diamond shaped and matched my modern garden theme and radical design ethos but you can have any shape you please as long as it blends with the surroundings. For more information on how to build a square pond click here.
One further aspects that needs consideration when deciding on an elevated pond is how to build the walls of the pond. Walls can be built from bricks, concrete blocks or stone. The construction of these complicated pond shapes is discussed in the next section.
A well designed pool of the right dimensions will be a water feature and not an eye sore.
The construction phase of the pond is a fun phase but depending on the size of pond can be hard work as well especially if you go for a large pond. The larger ponds may indeed require large excavation and removal of soil and could take days to complete and involve more then one person. If you are in the major stages of any building project such as extension or conservatory building then this may be a good time to allocate some effort in the pond building process as well and work in parallel with these projects. This way hiring equipment costs for JCB, wheel barrow are better utilized. The rearrangement of turf, soil and paving can all be done just the one time as well.
When excavating the pond area use a stepped profile for the sides so that you can put a variety of plants along the perimeter but it is not vital. you can also use blocks of brick or stone to prop up the height when inserting plants later. The most important aspect however is that you will need to keep the perimeter of the pond level so that when you lay paving slabs they will remain horizontal and true.
For constructing an elevated pond above ground level you will need a solid foundation to build the surround wall of the pond. Click here for how to construct an elevated pond.
Once you have created the ditch for the sunken pond or a cavity for the elevated raised pond you are ready to place either a rigid prefabricated plastic shell or a flexible pond liner. The choice is up to you with the following considerations.
A prefabricated rigid liner is the best long term choice because it would weather well and not likely to leak. Although these are cumbersome to install due to lack of flexibility they have the advantage that the preparation area underneath the shell need not be as smooth. They are however limited to certain shapes and sizes.
The popular choice is the flexible liner, comes in a variety of sizes and once placed in the pond cavity will take up the shape of the excavation or cavity. Care needs to be taken when installing the flex liner to avoid puncturing the liner accidentally although they tend to be thick enough for normal handling. The disadvantage of the liner is that after some time and due to winter weather they may perforate and leak. The leaks are easy to fix if they are big enough to see but if they are small the leaks are difficult to see and easy to detect because you will continually need to top up the pond with water.
When the pond is filled with water and the weight of water is pressing on the liner, a rough surface under the liner will perforate the liner. To avoid this the surface under the liner needs to be filled and packed with building sand.
With the liner firmly in place it is time to fill the pond with water. Once the pond is filled about 1/2 capacity I would bend the remaining liner over the edge perimeter or wall and place weights on top of the edging and all around the perimeter and wait. You now need to confirm that the water you have filled the pond with is being held by the pond and not leaking and to be 100% sure I would suggest leaving the pond in this state overnight. By the next day the pond liner will have settled and water level stabilized you can then finish off the edging by laying paving slabs.
Before continuing with laying the paving stones you can now fill the remaining pond to near full capacity leaving about 3 cm from top of pond. Once done you can bend the flex liner over and place brick blocks as weights to hold liner.
Before laying the paving slabs it might be worth mentioning that this is the time you should lay any cables and pipes for any electric pumps and water filters. Protect all cables going into the pond and piping to avoid getting damaged by lawnmowers!
For laying the paving slabs you will need to set them on a bed of mortar. The reason for this are two fold firstly the paving slabs need a firm foundation to rest on and secondly it allows a waterproofing of the pond edge keeping the pond water in. The firm mortar base for the paving is also needed to lock the slabs together in case the fountain water spills over and onto the paving slabs. The paving slabs should be wide enough to act as a sill and cover the exposed part of the pond liner.
A pond on its own is pretty passive feature and one way to turn it into a dynamic but at same time relaxing feature is to add a water fountain, cascading waterfall and even the use of pond lighting
For the pond you do not need to introduce wildlife as your new water feature will automatically attract a variety of wildlife. You will need to stock it with fish but the rest of the wildlife will come to the "watering hole". My pond regularly attracts cats, squirrels, pigeons, the occasional fox and a multitude of frogs and insects.